60 minutes with a breakthrough Belgian techno artist.
"I underestimated how heavy it would become," says Charlotte de Witte below. "It drains a lot of energy but also energises at the same time." De Witte is well placed to discuss the demands of international touring. The Belgian techno artist has spent the past couple years almost constantly on the road, playing every corner of the globe, often to thousands of people. Her status as one of the scene's most popular new DJs will have seemed sudden to many people, but this is actually the second chapter in de Witte's career. "After doing the radio show for a little while, I won a competition to go and play Tomorrowland," she said in a Mixmag profile from earlier this year. "Suddenly everyone knew the name Raving George... There were people who couldn't stand seeing a 17-year-old playing events like Tomorrowland and I Love Techno. There were hate groups against me on Facebook!" She'd had enormous success with Raving George, a name she'd adopted to disguise her gender and "put the emphasis on what mattered most to me: the music." But in 2015 de Witte announced that she was dropping the alias, adopting her given name, and focussing fully on making and playing techno.
RA.624 encapsulates the sound that de Witte has been developing since. As we've heard on releases through Turbo, Suara, novamute and other labels, as well as standout tracks like "Closer" and "Control," she favours an intense, minimalist style of techno that emphasises dark moods, vocal lines and heavy drums. She's playing as part of RA's Underground stage takeover later this month at Movement festival in Detroit, where you'll be able to see the energy, charisma and music that have made her so in-demand.
What have you been up to recently?
I've been touring a lot lately. The agenda is crammed with gigs all over the world, so these are intense times. I underestimated how heavy it would become but I still love travelling and playing in different countries very much. It drains a lot of energy but also energises at the same time.
How and where was the mix recorded?
This mix was made using Ableton and recorded in my home studio in Brussels.
Can you tell us about the idea behind the mix?
The mix includes lots of unreleased work. One upcoming track from myself, which will be released in the beginning of June, and many tracks from other artists. I always try and bring a recent mix that is a representation of the kind of techno music that's getting released nowadays. It's quite a stripped mix, in the same line as my DJ sets would be, and it goes faster than usual. The mix starts at about 127 BPM and ends at 138 BPM. A trip through tempo.
Your schedule this summer looks exciting but also pretty gruelling. How has it been getting used to playing so many gigs?
Your body actually does get used to the lack of sleep. I travel alone for 95% of the time so I'm not so easily tempted to have a couple of drinks before or after the show. It's quite easy to stay focused if you realise you have to try and sleep as much as you can, eat healthy and stay hydrated. Needless to say that on Monday, after a heavy weekend, I'm feeling completely exhausted.
What are you listening to outside of club music right now?
I'm actually really flexible and open-minded when it comes to listening to other types of music. I'm a big fan of electronic (melancholic) music in general, like Bob Moses, James Blake, Dillon, BANKS and so on. But I also love more bassy vibes like The Weeknd or The Internet. Oh and I'm a sucker for '60s and '70s music.
What are you up to next?
I'm currently on a flight to Hurghada in Egypt. I'm playing at Sandbox Festival tomorrow, after which I'm heading to Budapest and Stuttgart. Later on this month, I'm crossing the Atlantic again for gigs at Movement Festival Detroit, EDC Las Vegas, Resistance Mexico City, Baum Festival Bogota, Baum Park Medellín, Transistor Santiago de Chile, Teleferico Quito and RHA Festival Riviera Nayarit. It'll be super intense but I'll really cross some things of the wish list here so I'm excited. I'm travelling alone but I'm having a day off in Las Vegas so I decided to book myself a helicopter tour and fly over the Grand Canyon. I think it's really important to always try and visit the country you're staying at, head into nature and explore.